Peter Valberg, Xcel’s EMF witness, is at it again…

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Buy the Farm — posted by admin on April 26, 2014 @ 11:14 am


A version of the old “joke,” how do you know Peter Valberg, Ph.D., is lying?  His lips are moving…

Xcel Energy is challenging Florence & Dave Minar and their Cedar Summit Farm’s election of Minnesota’s Buy the Farm law, which allows landowners facing utility condemnation to say, “You must buy us out.”  This is the law in Minnesota, but Xcel Energy hasn’t gotten the message.

Subd. 4.Contiguous land.

(a) When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more by eminent domain proceedings, the owner shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner wholly owns in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055. Commercial viability shall be determined without regard to the presence of the utility route or site. Within 60 days after receipt by the utility of an owner’s election to exercise this option, the utility shall provide written notice to the owner of any objection the utility has to the owner’s election, and if no objection is made within that time, any objection shall be deemed waived. Within 120 days of the service of an objection by the utility, the district court having jurisdiction over the eminent domain proceeding shall hold a hearing to determine whether the utility’s objection is upheld or rejected. The utility has the burden of proof to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property elected by the owner is not commercially viable. The owner shall have only one such option and may not expand or otherwise modify an election without the consent of the utility. The required acquisition of land pursuant to this subdivision shall be considered an acquisition for a public purpose and for use in the utility’s business, for purposes of chapter 117 and section 500.24, respectively; provided that a utility shall divest itself completely of all such lands used for farming or capable of being used for farming not later than the time it can receive the market value paid at the time of acquisition of lands less any diminution in value by reason of the presence of the utility route or site. Upon the owner’s election made under this subdivision, the easement interest over and adjacent to the lands designated by the owner to be acquired in fee, sought in the condemnation petition for a right-of-way for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more shall automatically be converted into a fee taking.

(b) All rights and protections provided to an owner under chapter 117 apply to acquisition of land or an interest in land under this section.

(c) Within 120 days of an owner’s election under this subdivision to require the utility to acquire land, or 120 days after a district court decision overruling a utility objection to an election made pursuant to paragraph (a), the utility must make a written offer to acquire that land and amend its condemnation petition to include the additional land.

(d) For purposes of this subdivision, “owner” means the fee owner, or when applicable, the fee owner with the written consent of the contract for deed vendee, or the contract for deed vendee with the written consent of the fee owner.

For some reason, they hired shill Peter Valberg, Ph.D., to testify — I don’t see anything in “Buy the Farm” that makes this relevant.  Oh well…

So now, on to the “mistatements” when Valberg testified.  There were a couple of things he said that were patently false (not direct quotes, but the essence of what he falsely claimed):

The grid is 60 Hz so there’s no danger from ionizing radiation.

The EMF doesn’t transfer because it’s low frequency.

The magnetic fields were calculated at the “thermal limit” and the maximum was 100 mG at the centerline, and then decreased going outward.

1) 60 Hz — The grid is 60 Hz so there’s no danger from ionizing radiation.:

Folks, it’s basic physics, in which Valberg has a Ph.D., and basic electrical engineering, that the frequencies on the grid are NOT limited to 60 Hz and in fact go lower and go far, far higher.  Art Hughes, Ph.D. was doing research on impact of frequencies in the 1,000-1,500 Hz range when he died, in a pig barn, where he was doing the experiments.  Frequencies on the grid go up to the levels where it’s ionizing radiation.  HUH?  Yes, corona is that high, it’s ultra violet range, and it’s simple to demonstrate, just take a look at how utilities check for damage to the lines:

EPE_2013111816011292 The Ultraviolet Detection of Corona Discharge in Power Transmission Lines

Corona discharge is at that “ionizing” level, and if there is particulate matter nearby (and where isn’t there particulate matter nearby), that particulate matter picks up the ionization:

Link to abstracts of Henshaw’s corona & criteria pollutant articles

Here’s a chart of where corona shows up on the frequency spectrum: Chart

Easy to read Wiki on “corona discharge”

Here are two very interesting patent applications about corona and UV from transmission lines:



2) The EMF doesn’t transfer because it’s low frequency.

Ummmm… what does Valberg think line loss is?  And corona and line loss is a significant problem for utilities.  They use the corona detectors, as above, to find sources of major losses:

EPE_2013111816011292 The Ultraviolet Detection of Corona Discharge in Power Transmission Lines

3) The magnetic fields were calculated at the “thermal limit” and the maximum was 100 mG at the centerline, and then decreased going outward.

And let’s take a look at the magnetic field levels as addressed in the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton routing docket, because the levels were certainly not calculated for the “thermal limit,” as Valberg testified yesterday, they were calculated for at most 1/3 of the thermal limit amperage:

Affidavit of Bruce McKay

From the Brookings-Hampton application, pages 3-20 to 3-22, and look at the amps (click chart for larger pdf):


Now, note the range of amps, 1005.9, 841, 826.7 are the highest I see, but look at the thermal limits, and folks, this is IN THE CAPX 2020 CERTIFICATE OF NEED RECORD:

Schedin IR 3

In this Information Request response, they admit that the thermal limit for amps for this line is much greater than 1,000:


So building on these numbers, from the Affidavit of Bruce McKay above:



As Miss Helen Lee Murphy’s math teacher friend would agree, 390.71 mG and 304.92 mG are both above 100 mG.

Some other similar mG transmission posts — do you see a trend?

CapX Hampton – La Crosse – Affidavit – Bruce McKay

Hiawatha Project — McKay Affidavit and Exhibits – Final

Here is a chart from the Split Rock-Lakefield Jct. line with various conductor sizes with voltages, amps, and MVA:

Ex 35 App 7 Conductor spec

Some past posts about Valberg:

The ongoing saga of the Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line

CapX info dump in the Fargo docket (another McKay Affidavit here)

Peter Valberg, stop it!  It’s a matter of record, and you’re misrepresenting at best:


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace